PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — While the school year is winding down, it’s just the beginning for new Rhode Island Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green.
The veteran New York educator kicked off her career by walking to school with elementary school students in Providence.
“Once I saw the kids, the anxiety was gone,” Infante-Green said. “It feels just right.”
Infante-Green said one of her short-term goals is to have as many open conversations with parents and teachers as possible.
“I am very proud but I feel a weight of responsibility to make sure I do right by every child in the state of Rhode Island,” Infante-Green said.
She is taking the reins at a time of change for Rhode Island schools. A new standardized test was implemented last year and across the state, just 34% of students met or exceeded expectations in English Language Arts. Only 27% did so in math.
“It’s unacceptable,” Infante-Green said. “I was very saddened. It took the air, the wind out of me.”
“That’s when I felt like, ‘OK, we have to do this,'” she continued. “I felt really motivated and passionate to do this work because we have to change that.”
Infante-Green has extensive experience developing programs for English language learners – a group she refers to as multi-language learners – who represent a fast-growing group that is falling further behind their peers.
“That is at the forefront for me. It’s very important. It’s what I’ve based my career on,” she said. “I was one of those children, and for those children, we have to do more faster.”
Her goals are ambitious but she said she is willing to put in the work to turn things around.
“What we want to do is to make Rhode Island schools world-class schools,” Infante-Green said. “I’ve made the commitment to working 24 hours a day if we have to to make that happen.”
Infante-Green is hosting a parent forum on Thursday, May 2, from 6:30 – 7 p.m. at the Providence Career and Technical Academy. All are encouraged to attend.